The Legend of Io

Her head suddenly heavy, Io looked down at her hooves. Moments earlier, Zeus had caressed her shapely — decidedly not bovine — form. Like so many of her nymph sisters the world over, Io simply couldn’t resist the king of gods.

She knew the risks. Hera, his wife, had a habit of showing up at inopportune times, leaving a trail of cursed adultresses and coconspirators in her wake. And now here she was.

Really, Zeus — a cow? He could’ve transformed her into anything. A graceful swan. An eagle. But a white heifer? That hurt.

Oh, no. Here she comes, Io thought, lowering her head.

Hera stepped forward, glared at Zeus, and then at her. Io could tell by the look in her eyes, she wasn’t buying it. What would Zeus be doing with a cow?

Io’s stomach clenched. This wouldn’t end well.

She dipped her tongue into the river at her feet, and lapped at the water, trying to act the part. How did cows drink anyway?

Her ear turned to the conversation, dreading what she might hear. A quiver shook her hide as she waited for the axe to fall.

Hera’s voice was cold. “Zeus, husband. Who do we have here?”

Io forced herself not to look.

“To whom do you refer, dear? The white heifer?”

Silence. Never a good sign. Io began to sweat through her hide. She stopped licking at the stream. She couldn’t swallow anyway.

“Get back to Olympus, Zeus. There are urgent matters to attend to,” Hera said.

There was only one god who could get away with issuing a command to the king of gods and she was standing right there.

“I’ll be along shortly,” he said.

“Now. Unless there are matters here that demand your attention. The white heifer, perhaps?”

He was trapped — faced with admitting his indiscretion versus leaving her in her new form to face Hera. It didn’t take him long to decide.

“Fine. I’ll go.”

With an ear splitting crack, he was gone.

Io didn’t move. Maybe if she prayed hard enough, Hera would let her live — not that that was such a great prize. She was a cow. Wasn’t that punishment enough?

Finally, Hera spoke. “Do you think me an imbecile?”

Io turned to face her. Shamed. Penitent. Sorry.

“You nymphs just can’t keep your filthy hands off my husband, can you? You shall serve as an example to the others. I see Zeus has already done half the job for me, you fat, lumbering cow. You may live as such, with my blessing.”

Hera uttered a hex of some kind. Io flinched at a sharp pinch on her hindquarters.

“And that is my blessing,” Hera said. “This stinging gadfly shall be your constant companion, to remind you of your folly. Now, be gone.”

Io lumbered away, feeling the welt of the first sting swell as it pinched again.

Epilogue (from the Greek legends):

Io roamed the earth for many years, tormented by the stinging gad fly. At a particularly low point, nearly driven mad, she came across Prometheus, bound to a rock at the shores of the black sea. An eagle was forever eating out his liver — punishment from Zeus for giving man fire.

Despite his pain, Prometheus was kind to Io, assuring her that she wouldn’t remain a heifer forever. Someday she’d be transformed back to human and be part of the ancestry of a great hero, Hercules.

Eventually, Io did escape across the Ionian Sea to Egypt where Zeus transformed her back to human. Both the Ionian sea and the Bosporus are named after the legend of Io. (The Greek translation for Bosporus means cattle-passage, or cow passage, where Io crossed the strait before meeting up with Prometheus.)

Athena and Zeus Backstory

In The Medusa Legacy, my debut thriller series, I weave a modern-day tale into some popular Greek myth. Below, I have provided some backstory relevant to the first two books — alternating between Zeus’ and Athena’s point of view.

Zeus:

Upon hearing that one of his offspring with Metis, Goddess of Wisdom, would rule the heavens, Zeus was more than a little worried. That was his job and he wasn’t near ready to relinquish it. He’d worked hard to attain his new position as king of the Gods, ruler of the heavens, and God of Justice. And he knew all too well what it took to get there.

He felt no guilt, wresting Titan rule from his father’s hands. Cronus needed to be knocked from his throne. Out with the Titans, in with the Olympians.

Zeus had known it would take more than just himself to defeat the powerful and tyrannical Cronus. He needed allies, lots of them. Once he’d freed his siblings (two brothers and three sisters) from Cronus’ belly, he set loose various Titans from Tartarus that had been wronged by his father. Now loyal to Zeus, the Cyclopes among others, helped Zeus and his brethren defeat the old Titan ruler.

For their loyalty and service, Zeus allowed the Titans to live free so long as they behaved. In gratitude, the three blacksmith cyclops – Brontes, Steropes and Arges – created the new Olympian rulers gifts at their forge. Zeus, ruler of the heaven, received the thunderbolt. Poseidon, ruler of the sea, received the trident. And Hades, ruler of the underworld, received the helm of darkness.

But I digress — back to Zeus’ worry about the prophecy.

Upon hearing his wife was pregnant, quite possibly with a child that would usurp his newly acquired position, Zeus had to take action. Borrowing a page from Cronus’ handbook on how to deal with threat and uncertainty, he swallowed his pregnant wife whole.

Why risk it? Problem solved.

Athena:

Understandably, Athena’s relationship with her father, Zeus, was strained. She’d spent her entire youth imprisoned inside of him. That was no way to rear a child.

He’d never relinquished her mother from his fleshy tomb either. That hurt.

God of Justice, she seethed. What had Metis ever done to him?

With no nurtured maternal instincts, Athena eschewed the whole nasty motherhood business, declaring herself a virginal Goddess.

Men? Children? Who needed ‘em.

Goddess of War? Sure. What the hell.

Goddess of heroic endeavour? Sure, it could come in handy someday.

So, Athena, more than a little pissed, kept her sentiments to herself, preferring the indirect approach. She was much too smart to go toe-to-toe with the king of Gods.

There were other ways to hurt the old man.

Zeus:

“Son of a bitch! Do it! Do it now!” Zeus commanded his son, Hephaestus, to cleave his skull with the double-bladed axe. The pressure in his head was more than he could bear.

With a flash of light and shower of gold, Zeus’ cranium split open and Athena sprang free, armored and ready for battle. Her battle cry pealed over the island of Rhodes, announcing her arrival.

Pushing his skull back together, a by-product of covering his ears from the banshee wail of Athena’s release. Zeus raised his thunderbolt, considering for a moment to take action. But she was a woman. No threat there. He’d let her live.

Besides, she reminded him of Metis, they’d been good together once. Maybe he’d been hasty, swallowing her before he’d even known whether she was bearing him a son or daughter.

But over time, as Zeus got to know Athena, he started to question the wisdom of letting her live. At every turn, she seemed to undermine his command. Even his friends and advisors accused him of giving her too much latitude, letting her disobedience go unchecked for way too long. He was running out of patience.

From the moment of her emergence, Zeus and Athena’s relationship ranged from an uneasy truce to occupying opposite sides of the epic conflict of Troy (Athena and Poseidon siding with the Greeks and Zeus with the Trojans).

The backstory blurb above demonstrates there are two sides to every story.

In my first book, the Medusa Deception, Zeus’ tolerance of Athena’s actions and her inner motivations are brought to light, uncovering more deception and knife-twisting than ever known.

In the sequel, the Dodona Prophecy, the conflict between Zeus and Athena comes to a head, with Mandy caught in the middle.

I get a kick out of researching the ancient myths, reading between the lines and putting my own spin on them. I hope you enjoy them too.

Please watch for The Dodona Prophecy, book two in the series, due out in 2015.

Sincerely,
The Myth Twister

The Medusa Deception – Goodreads Giveaway (paperback) and LibraryThing Giveaway (e-book)

Enter to win an author-signed paperback on Goodreads. Contest runs until July 6, 2014. Winner selected by Goodreads.
https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/95735-the-medusa-deception

Enter to win a free e-book (25 available). Contest runs until July 9th, 2014. (Click link and search for The Medusa Deception). Winners selected by LibraryThing.

https://www.librarything.com/er/giveaway/list

Goodreads Book Giveaway of The Medusa Deception

Enter to win an author-signed copy in paperback.  Click the following link to enter:
The Medusa Deception Goodreads Giveaway

The Medusa Deception is a fantasy action thriller interlaced with Greek mythology involving a strong female protagonist on a path of self-discovery set between present-day Chicago and ancient Greece.

The book giveaway runs between January 9th, 2014 and February 13, 2014.  The winner will be selected by Goodreads.  Good luck to everyone.

Editing my First Novel – A Reflection by Linda Temple

I was at a party last night where a person asked me what editing involved. When most people think of editing, they think of spelling and grammar. How could it possibly take three-quarters of a year to write a book and a year to edit it?

That’s a good question. For me, I wrote my first book without any knowledge of writing, other than what I learned in school. I’m university educated in business and computing, but not at all versed in the art of creative writing. And there’s a lot to learn.

It was a personal decision for me to see if I could write a story (novel length) without being encumbered with all of the rules of writing. I thought I might get discouraged. And, looking back, I definitely might have. The first priority for me was, do I have a story to tell?

While I wrote, I admit to researching how to create suspense. In the genre I was shooting for (fantasy thriller), it’s integral to the story. But that was all the writing advice I sought during the creation pass. After three quarters of a year, I had a rough story, hopefully suspenseful. Now, I had to learn about creative writing.

Below, I highlight my journey through five full edit passes — not including partial fix-ups and edits based on suggestions from others (friends, family and colleagues).

My intent in this article is not to teach. I am a new writer with lots to learn. However, by posting my journey of a years worth of editing, maybe I can help you ask the right questions, get you started.

If I have missed any major points, please feel free to contribute. Thanks.

FIVE EDIT PASSES – A YEAR IN THE MAKING

1st Edit Pass – BACKSTORY & CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT

These are both very important and interrelated. Part of how you develop character is through backstory.

I read somewhere that most authors could chop the first 100 pages from their manuscript and their story would be better off. That made me take a hard look at the start of my story. Did it need to start there? Was I imparting unnecessary details? Was I front-loading all of the backstory, boring the heck out of my reader who just wants me to get on with it? Yes to all.

The secret is to sprinkle relevant bits of backstory and character development throughout the story. Not chunk it all at the beginning. Oh.

Consider the “fish-head” analogy. Like a fish monger, chop the fish head off (the first part of your manuscript) and throw it away. Only keep the “good eating” part.

Character Development is worth researching in its own right. How a person acts, how they wish they could have acted, what they say (out loud), what they meant (inner dialogue), how they speak or think (voice), body language, sarcasm, quirks, mannerisms, etc. etc. etc.

2nd Edit Pass – SCENE TRANSITION, POINT OF VIEW, SPELLING & GRAMMAR

A family member read an early draft and pointed out that my scene transitions were choppy and abrupt. So I looked into it. Apparently, there’s a right way to transition your scenes. Who knew?

Within the first paragraph or two of every scene, the reader should be re-oriented as to where they are, when, and in who’s point-of-view. Excellent segue into point of view.

What’s point-of-view? I wrote in third-person limited. Within each scene (or scene break), the reader should only be in one person’s head. Observations of other people’s actions and behaviors are possible only as much as can be observed or derived or assumed by the point-of-view character. If you relay inner-thoughts from more than one person in a scene, it’s called head-hopping and can pull your reader out of the story. Note: You can use scene breaks to switch to another point-of-view and that’s o.k.

Another keyword to look up is author-intrusion. Make sure you, as the author, aren’t explaining something that the reader needs to know, rather than showing it or explaining it from a character’s point of view (show don’t tell).

More on scene development: enter the scene at the last possible moment. What does that mean? That means you might be able to trim your scenes to eliminate the idle chit-chat at the beginning, where you’re losing too much pace, and get to the point quicker. It’s kind of like chopping the fish head off each individual scene.

3rd Edit Pass – READY FOR AN EDITOR?

At this point, I considered hiring an editor, but who? And how much was I willing to spend?

It turns out that who, was a lot harder a question than I had thought. Who indeed? So I did some research. What were the top-rated how-to books on self-editing? I bought Don McNair’s Editor-Proof Your Writing and read it. Yup. Edit pass number 3 coming up. Thanks Don, excellent book.

Tips such as dropping a shoe, so the reader is presented with unanswered questions that they must read on to find the answer. How to sprinkle-in back-story, making sure every scene has a purpose and advances the plot, etc. And more on POV – even descriptive narration within a scene should be reflective of the point-of-view character, not the author.

4th Edit Pass – STORY CLEANUP, Continuity, Add in Detail, Show don’t Tell, Spelling & Grammar

Write for clarity, reduce over-used words and phrases, use fewer -ing words, etc. see Don McNair’s 21 steps in the above mentioned book. Remove cliches unless they are used for a reason. Sometimes less is more. Try to vary your descriptors. I purchased The Emotion Thesaurus, by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi to help identify different adjectives to convey emotion. It helped.

Make sure to remove: author-intrusion, “aha” moments (Oh, now I see, everything is clear now), and Mary Sue characters (flawed is better than perfect).

5th Edit Pass – FLOW, FINE TUNING, SPELLING & GRAMMAR

For the fifth and final pass, I printed the story and read it on paper. I wanted the writing to disappear and the story to pop. If I stumbled on my own writing, a reader would too. Boy, did it need a cleanup pass.

Perhaps the process of editing introduced the choppiness. Or maybe, by fixing the bigger issues, the smaller problems became apparent. Either way, I found quite a bit to polish up. I’m also sure that if I were to read it again and again, I would probably make changes every time. When do you stop? That’s another good question.

Spelling and Grammar (yes, again): Pick a standard (I used an American dictionary, even though I’m Canadian). Also, get another pair of eyes to edit your manuscript. A spell-checker doesn’t find everything, like misused words.

A couple of other things to consider, not covered here, are:

– Structure and Plot
– Outlining vs. Pantsing (writing by the seat of your pants)

Good luck with your writing projects!